By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The B.M.O.C. at Bluefield College really is the ‘big’ man on campus.
That is nothing new for 6-foot-3, 350-pound Cameron Carter, a junior nose guard for the Rams football team.
“I have always been big,” Carter said. “When I look back on it in second grade I was like a buck-fifty, in middle school I know I was in the 200s and in high school, that is when I hit the 3s and I have been over 330 since about my freshman year.”
Yet, football wasn’t Carter’s first love.
“I can’t lie, when I was younger I wanted to play basketball, but I kept getting too many fouls and I kept fouling out of games,” Carter said. “I got into football and that was my mom’s favorite sport and it kind of grew on me. All my uncles and cousins played it too and I kind of like hitting people and it was fun.”
He continues to have fun by using his size and strength as an inside presence for the Bluefield defense, having recorded 27 tackles, including a couple of stops for loss at one of the toughest spots on the field.
“It is a not a position for everybody,” Carter said. “It is really one of those positions where you have got to have a lot of heart to play it and you have got to be a determined and tolerant person with what goes on inside the middle because it will hurt, but it’s all worth it to me.”
A native of Roanoke, Va., Carter has been a part of a struggling program in the past. Northside was 1-9 and 2-8 in his first two seasons, followed by a 6-6 mark and a loss to Logan Thomas and Brookville in the playoffs. As a senior, the Vikings were 12-2 and Division 3 state champions.
“It was a great feeling, it was hard to imagine, we just kind of took it one game at a time...,” said Carter, who turned 22 on Tuesday. “I think when we did make it to states and we won it was a surreal moment, but we look back on it and we are talking more so about the journey it took to get there from our freshman year to our senior year rather than that we won state.
“It was more about the journey than it was actually winning it.”
Carter sees a similar journey taking place with the Rams, who are also struggling, posting an 0-8 mark this season and 0-19 over the last two years.
“It is just going to be the journey,” he said. “When we do start having success, we are going to look back it and say, ‘Man, I can remember those times when things weren’t going right. Now that we are having success it just feels great because we put in the time and the work and the effort, the blood, sweat and tears just to get here.;”
An All-Group AA offensive lineman as a senior at Northside, Carter originally went to Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte, N.C., but found it difficult to focus with the temptations waiting in the big city.
“I was young, I didn’t really have my head on straight and didn’t know what I really want to do... I had to take a step back and say ‘Am I ready for this’ so I ended up leaving and I went to community college, worked two jobs and then came back here,” said Carter, who learned about Bluefield’s new program through a family friend.
“He was an Army recruiter and he came up here and he knew I was trying to come back and play football. He ended up telling the coach about me. I filled out a questionnaire and sent film and thank God I got an offer. I was cool with it, I just wanted to play ball again.”
Bluefield College head coach Ordell Walker is happy to have Carter on his side.
“He is a huge, big guy in the middle to try and block, very hard to move, and I really love his leadership,” Walker said. “He has been buying in to the principles of the program and trying to model the things we ask the guys to do so that has been huge for us.
“I think all of the players respect him and look up to him. He is a guy who gets it done all the way around, he is a hard worker on the field and academically.”
Carter sees similar traits from Walker and the new coaching staff that took over the Rams last summer.
“I think the difference from last year to this year, we are still young, but I think we have a little more commitment to the program,” Carter said. “The people that are here now have a dream that we want to take this program further because of the season we had last year and the one we are having this year. Everybody is trying to get better as we go along.”
Up next for Bluefield is a visit on Saturday to Georgetown, which is traditionally one of the top NAIA programs in America. The Tigers pounded the Rams 77-9 last season, and Carter remembers it well.
“I have got a vendetta to settle with everybody, they made me look bad last year so now I am trying to go out and make them look bad because I owe them one,” Carter said. “I don’t want nobody thinking I am soft because I am pretty sure that is what they are thinking from last year, I have a score to settle.”
What he could do without his the actual trip itself. That five-hour bus ride is rough on anyone, but especially someone of Carter’s size.
“Sitting on the bus for all those hours, I can’t lie, it is uncomfortable, it hurts after about the second hour,” said Carter, who hopes to play pro football and also aspires to be a mentor to teenagers. “I am either trying to lay on the floor or trying to read or listen to music, do something.
“I am grateful. I don’t care what hotel we are at, I am grateful because we are not on a bus and trying to lay down.”
Carter doesn’t plan to stay large forever. He is working with defensive line coach T.J. Lynch in trying to prepare for a long life ahead.
“It takes a lot of extra, extra effort and a lot more determination because of my weight,” Carter said. “Coach Lynch has me thinking differently...and I am trying to prepare myself for life outside of football.
“I can’t carry this weight forever because I am not going to live. With exercise and just changing how you eat and how you live your life in general makes a big difference from somebody who is just trying to diet.”
Georgetown isn’t the only ranked team left for the Rams. All three of their final games are against NAIA schools in the Top 25, but Carter is confident the Rams can play with any of them.
“That is the great thing about competition, I never really want to go out and have an easy opponent,” Carter said. “I want somebody who is going to challenge me because I want to see where I am at and what I need to work on...
“To me we are the underdogs, nobody expects us to win, but in my mind that doesn’t have anything to do with it. I know that man across from me still is a human being so he is going to have a weakness. He believes just like I believe.”
Carter is a big — really ‘big’ — believer in Bluefield College football.
“I see a lot of good things about this program and I believe that in the very near future that this program is going to be one of the programs to fear,” Carter said. “It takes time, not everybody is going to be an ODU (Old Dominion), everybody is not going to come out swinging and just annihilating people in their first year, it doesn’t work like that for everybody.
“I think we will be better for it because we worked harder for it against the odds.”
—Contact Brian Woodson at firstname.lastname@example.org